Nationalism is the primary legitimator of political identities in the modern world. The major forum of humanity – the United Nations (UN) – is an organization of purported nation-states. Yet in his classic study Eric Hobsbawm (1992: 191) declared that nationalism is no longer a global political program and the history of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century would have to be written in largely supranational and infranational terms. In the nineteenth century, nationalism was an important historical force in the developed world, combining nation-states with a national economy that formed a building block of the world economy; similarly, national liberation movements after 1945 played a progressive function as they were unificatory, internationalist (in opposing ethnic tribalism) and emancipatory (ibid.: 169). However, the rise of the European Union (EU) and a host of international organizations (IOs) such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank show the limits of state sovereignty in the contemporary world. In its separatist and populist forms nationalism has regressed to being a politics of identity, expressing a hunger to belong. Its goals of making political and ethnographic boundaries are unrealizable in a world of global economic disruptions and mass migration. It is a symptom of the disorientation produced by such changes, offering no diagnosis, let alone a treatment of problems that can be tackled at a higher level (ibid.: 177).
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
- Nationalism and Identity
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number